Saturday, 2 January 2016

Delivering The Message

I can't think of a better way to start the New Year other than to reproduce this blog posting from Mo McSevney in Redlands :

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Delivering the Message.

Wednesday 30th December 2015 was a good day.

It  didn't start well, it turns out that some Tories may have been a bit racist in the 80's and that the government ignored it's own advice on flood defense spending.

Facebook, twitter, the news. It really didn't matter where I looked that morning there seemed to be mysery and duplicitous behaviour all over the place. It started with a retweet from Dianne Abbott. For anyone who is interested she's the shadow minister for international development and a woman I admire but at times just wish she would open her peepers and shut her mouth a little more. Anyway, this was all about how Oliver Letwin had written a very disparaging briefing to Margaret Thatcher blocking money for black youth initiatives after the 1985 riots. He basically said that young black people would only spend it on discos, drugs and Rastafarian craft activities which would of course be a waste of money.

So, that was then, now this condesdcending sod has been put in the cabinet office. Responsible for goverment policy he worked with insurers to form a response to flood crisis and assist those homeowners and businesses on flood plains-which I am sure is very comforting to those who have to board a canoe to take the rubbish out tonight.

It would seem though that Mr Letwin didn't quite follow through on the whole plan, instead he decided that businesses shouldn't be included in Flood re and closed the programme just weeks before storm Desmond wreaked havoc on the north of England. We now have storm Frank's floodwaters too and an eerie feeling of foreboding for the prospects of the chancellor's Northern Powerhouse folly (seriously, how do you deliver that when you let industies like steel fail?).

The absolute last straw came while I was in the kitchen. The TV mumbled THAT line, ....a stronger economy blah blah... It makes my blood boil every time. Bare faced lies, rehearsed and spouted by weak minded clones!

I had to turn over to something that made sense. I put the muppets on. The Muppets have some new characters and one of them started singing about caring and sharing.

Right then with that stupid song stuck in my head I was finally motivated and suitably informed of the day's biggest stories. I grabbed as many of the calendar gifts & ward newsletters as I could stuff in my bag and I delivered them. Before I knew it I was pounding the streets chanting "Caring... and sharing..."

Now I've delivered ward newsletters before but never with such an array of Muppets in my mind. The images of ruined farms, stranded livestock, waterlogged shops and convenience stores. Beachfronts, roads and promenades washed away by angry rivers and seas still played on the TV back at home. Every alert that shook the phone in my pocket to some other description of powerlessness and suffering seemed to make the chant more meaningful. Caring and sharing, caring and sharing, caring and sharing. CARING AND BLOODY SHARING!

I have never been so grateful to live in Redlands.

As I pushed an array of essential information through letterboxes I think I finally understood what Corbyn and McDonnell have been spouting.

It's me! I am angry, but I don't need to shout. All I need to do is take a well formed, useful and fair message to my neighbours house, pop it through the letterbox and let it do it's job.

I took a message and I delivered it. It spoke about promises met for schools, ambitions for westminster, essential information and contacts, local organisations and small businesses, local budget challenges and above all it showed how the Labour party IS different. How we can be more than just fodder for the food bank or zero hours employer. How if we invest now we can save ourselves from mysery later.

I get it, I am an activist!

I'm going to keep on being an activist, this year is all about Tony Jones and making sure he stays right where he is, forming the message, so that I can share it with my neighbours.
Thanks Mo. A really positive start to 2016!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Broad Street - Cycling Consultation

Broad Street - cycling consultation
Closing date 31 December 2015.
The Council is seeking your views on cycling in Broad Street.
In the early 1990's, Broad Street was initially partially pedestrianised resulting in the introduction of a cycling ban between the West Street/St Marys Butts Junction and Queen Victoria Street.
When the full length of Broad Street was pedestrianised in 2000, the existing cycle links on Broad Street East were retained to allow access via Cross Street and Queen Victoria Street to the north of the Town Centre. However, the existing moving traffic restrictions in Broad Street West remained, including the cycling ban. 
The Council proposes a review of the current no cycling restriction in Broad Street West and to consider the suitability of permitting or banning cycling for the whole length of Broad Street.
Therefore, please can you complete the online form, confirming your preference on the two proposed options.
The results of the informal consultation will be reported to the Traffic Management Sub-Committee in January 2016, and a further Statutory Consultation will follow which will be based on the most popular option.
Here is the link to the on-line consultation.
Here is a link to the cycle routes in Reading town centre.
My View
My colleague Cllr Tony Page, Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, has said:
"Since the full pedestrianisation of Broad Street many years ago, the Council has put in place more bike racks, including a ReadyBike docking station, in Broad Street East. Cycling facilities have also been provided in Broad Street West, but the cycling ban has been retained." 
"The public consultation which will take place will also make clear however that cycling bans would be retained elsewhere in the Town Centre and will be enforced much more rigorously by Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council." 
As a member of the Traffic Management Sub-Committee I have often had to consider reports about cycling in Reading. I believe the record shows I have been consistently supportive of initiatives to make Reading a more cycle-friendly town.
And I agree with Tony Page when he says that the current arrangements in Broad Street "can cause confusion for cyclists and pedestrians and is difficult to enforce. We believe that having consistency along the full length of Broad Street makes sense"
"The issue of some cyclists choosing to ignore cycling bans is one the Council and police are lobbied on regularly by the public. The introduction of more logical restrictions would allow this tougher enforcement action where cycling bans are in place".
However, I disagree with Tony's conclusion that we should lift the ban on cycling for the full length of Broad Street.
My view, is that the full length of Broad Street should be pedestrians only and cyclists be encouraged to use Friar Street and Minster Streets respectively as their cross town centre routes.
Let's make Broad Street truly pedestrianised!
Participate in the consultation

Picture courtesy of GetReading

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Reading Borough Council needs to save £39million over the next three years.

Central government funding to the council has been cut by 40% since 2013/14.

This is on top of the £57million cut since 2011.

Many local services can no longer be afforded and are at risk.

Following last week's autumn statement and spending review by George Osborne, the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies has calculated how government spending will have changed over the ten years since the arrival of the coalition LibDem/Conservative government in 2010 and the end of the current Conservative administration in 2020.

  • Local government spending will have been cut by 79% since May 2010.
  • Transport cut by 70%
  • Justice cut by 45%
  • Environment, Food and Rural Affairs cut by 45%
  • Work and Pensions cut by 44%
  • Business, Innovation and Skills cut by 42%
  • Culture, Media and Sports cut by 36%
  • Home Office cut by 26%
  • Defence cut by 12%
  • Education cut by 3%

In July 2007 government debt was at 35.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP). After bailing out the banks following the global financial crisis, this rose to 56.8% by July 2009.

By April 2015 this figure had risen to 81.6% of GDP or £1.56trillion and still rising by £2billion every week.

Osborne's choice of austerity for some, to fix the national economy is not working.